Buchteln, or German Sweet Yeast Dumplings are one of Germany’s best kept secrets. Not as famous outside the country as flashier dishes like Black Forest Cake or Bee Sting Cake, these soft, fruit filled rolls made from hefeteig are seriously delicious.
Don’t be concerned if you’ve never made a yeast dough before, my step-by-step Buchteln recipe is super easy to follow! And you can trust me, after one bite of your first homemade Buchtel you’ll be wanting to make them again and again.
What are Buchteln?
Buchteln are a type of German dumpling, made from an enriched yeast dough and stuffed with fresh fruit or jam. These sweet rolls have a light and airy texture and are popular right throughout Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Here in Southern Germany they are sometimes known as Rohrnudeln, and they are often served with a big jug of vanilla custard sauce.
While it may seem like a classic dessert to many, Buchteln are often served as a main course (especially to children!) and sometimes even have a savoury filling of onions and meat. I like mine stuffed with fresh summer cherries or plums and dusted with plenty of powdered sugar.
Buchteln are made from an enriched yeast dough, a little like brioche but without so much butter. To make them you’ll need these main ingredients:
- Whole Milk: This is what makes the yeast dough beautifully soft.
- Yeast: It’s traditional to use fresh yeast to make Buchteln, but they work perfectly with active dried yeast too.
- Sugar: This is a sweet treat after all, using sugar cubes makes filling the dumplings much easier.
- Flour, butter and eggs: the building blocks of the dough
- Orange zest and fresh cherries: For fruity flavour. See below for some other filling options.
How to make Buchteln
There’s not a lot of hands on time making Buchteln, but you’ll need a couple of hours to give the yeast dough time to rise.
- First, mix up my simple enriched yeast dough in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover an allow to rise for one hour.
- When the dough has risen, divide into 6 equal pieces, fill with fresh fruit and sugar or fruit jam, then shape and allow to rise again in a greased baking pan.
- Next, brush with melted butter and and bake until well risen and golden brown.
- Lastly, dust with icing sugar and serve warm with custard or vanilla sauce.
I like to fill my Buchteln with fresh cherries or plums. They also work wonderfully with other soft fruit like strawberries or apricot. In the winter months they are traditionally stuffed with plum jam or fruit preserves (in which case you can skip the sugar cube). Austrian Buchteln are often filled with Marillenmarmalade, a type of apricot jam.
Experiment and see which filling you like best! It’s not at all traditional, but I suspect they would be delicious stuffed with chocolate or hazelnut spread like Nutella.
How long do Buchteln keep?
These sweet buns keep for a day or two at room temperature, but they are most delicious on the day of baking or the following day. The unbaked yeast dough will keep for 2-3 days, well covered in the fridge. If you find your Buchteln have gone stale, either rewarm them in a low oven, or tear them up and use them to make Bread and Butter Pudding.
Don’t be scared of Hefeteig!
Every good German cook will have their own special Hefeteig or yeast dough recipe. This incredibly versatile dough forms the building blocks of loads of German recipes. Once you learn to make Hefeteig, you’ll be on your way to making Krapfen, Bienenstich, donuts, and more. My easy recipe below is tried and tested, so perfect for beginners.
Remember when working with yeast dough that it will rise best in a warm environment. If your dough isn’t rising it may be that your yeast has expired (check the use by date) or that the room is too cold. Try to let dough rise in a warm place like near (not on!) a radiator, or near a sunny window.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I freeze Buchteln?
Yes, though they are best fresh. I’ve reduced the quantities of this recipe to make just 6, and I’ll bet they all get eaten up!
Can I use vanilla extract instead of vanilla sugar?
Yes, you’ll need to reduce the amount of milk by an equal quantity, otherwise the dough will be too wet.
Do I have to have a kitchen machine or food processor to make Buchteln?
Not at all! You’ll just need to knead them by hand. As this is quite a wet dough, it’s best to use a wooden spoon to start kneading until the dough isn’t quite so sticky anymore.
- 100 ml (3.5 oz.) whole milk
- 21g (½ a cube) fresh yeast or 7 g (2 tsp) instant dried yeast
- 250g (1 ½ cups) plain or all-purpose flour, divided
- 30g (2 Tbsp) white sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 50 g (3 ½ Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 18-24 large cherries, pitted and halved
- 6 sugar cubes
- 25g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
- powdered or icing sugar, for dusting
- PREPARE THE YEAST: Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just warm (but not hot!) when you dip your little finger into it. Remove from the heat, then stir the yeast into the lukewarm milk. Set aside.
- MAKE THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment fitted (see note 1) combine 175g flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and lemon zest. While mixing, add the butter and egg yolk, then give the milk and yeast mixture a stir and pour it into the bowl. Run the mixer on high until the ingredients are combined, then with the mixer on low add the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes the dough should be moving freely around the bowl of the mixer, and only lightly sticky. If it is still a little liquid or a bit sticky, add one teaspoon of flour and knead for another minute until it stops sticking to the sides of the bowl.
- LET THE DOUGH RISE: When the dough has finished kneading, shape it into a ball - it should feel soft, springy and elastic. Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth or some plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. While the dough is rising, use a little butter to grease a 20x30cm (8x12 in.) ovenproof dish.
- DIVIDE THE DOUGH: When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten out the air and divide into six equal parts. I find it useful to weigh the dough so that my pieces are as even as possible.
- SHAPE AND SECOND RISE: Take one piece of dough, flatten out to the size of your palm, then fill with 3-4 cherries and a sugar cube. Pinch closed tightly to seal, then place with the sealed side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with all remaining dough, then cover and allow to rise for another 20 minutes while you heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- BAKE: When the oven is hot and the dough has risen, uncover, then brush each dumpling gently with melted butter, using it all up. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and risen.
- SERVE: Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes, then dust with icing or powdered sugar and serve with vanilla sauce or custard.
You can make this dough by hand, if you’re prepared to use a little good old fashioned elbow grease. The dough is a little wet to start with so you’ll have to use a wooden spoon, a big mixing bowl, and keep on stirring until the dough comes together – great for an impromptu arm workout!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 dumpling
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 54mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 3gSugar: 26gProtein: 7g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.
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